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Biology: Unit 2

Populations- Sample answers

The Graph indicates the
population of wolves and
Moose in Yellowstone National
Park. The populations rise and
fall in cycles.


Wolves are pack animals

and hunt the moose. Moose
eat water lilies and other
aquatic plants, however their
staple diet consists of leaves
twigs of the willow trees found
throughout the Yellowstone
National Park.

Using the Data, please answer the following questions: These answers are
sample answers and have been expanded for your learning.
Q1. How did the moose population change between 1965 and 1975?
The population increased and peaked at 1500 moose, and then to decrease slightly
Q2. What happened to the wolf population from 1970 to 1976?
The wolf population increased rapidly from less than 20 wolves to more than 40.
(Numbers are optional for these questions, however it is really important to explain how
quickly a population has increased or decreased as rate gives us a better idea of how a
population is changing over time)
Q3. Infer how the change in the moose population might have led to the change in the wolf
population? The increase in the abundance of moose as a food source provides a more
suitable reproductive environment for the wolves. This means that the wolves can
reproduce more successfully with a lower death rate and this would explain their population
(This question is asking you to think about factors that a population need for successful
reproduction. Try to relate how a food source affects the sustainability of a population and
also how it affects whether the animal is more likely to reproduce successfully.)
Q4. What is the highest recorded population of Wolves & in what year? 50 in 1980
(this was a question that requires you to be able to read the graph correctly. Draw lines
when the graphs are not clearly marked, and ensure that you check the axis carefully so
that you dont read the population of moose by mistake)
Q5. The wolves experience widespread disease which causes high levels of
mortality in the wolf population.
a. Explain how a disease causing a rapid decline in the wolf population would affect the
moose population and why?
A rapid decline in the wolf population means that there are less pradators in the area and
therefore the death rate of the moose would decrease. A lowered death rate would allow for
more moose to reproduce which in turn would lead to an increased moose population.
(This question is asking you to explain how death rate affects population and also how the
predator-prey relationship works)
b. Will the moose population grow exponentially if the wolves were to become extinct

following this disease? Justify your answer with reference to abiotic and biotic factors that
would likely affect this organism.
The moose produce sexually and so the population is unlikely to increase exponentially due
to the fact these organisms reproduce slowly. There will be a rapid increase in the
population due to the absence of wolves (Predation), however as the population grows there
will be more competition for resources (Intraspecific factors). The carrying capacity will limit
the population and when the moose population reaches this, the growth rate will level out
and the population should stabilise.
(This question requires you to evaluate the type of reproducer that this organism is and
think about how that will affect the rate of growth of this population. Other factors that
need to be discussed relating to rate of growth include predators, food sources and the
actually carrying capacity of this environment to sustain higher numbers of moose. A great
answer would be able to evaluate all of these elements with relation to this case and then
predict how the population growth will change over time)
Q6. Explain the likely cause/s of the rapid decline in the numbers of wolves between 1980
and 1982.
The rapid decline is likely due to either widespread disease which effects only the wolves,
diminished populations of their primary food source or the influence of humans (Culling and
hunting). The introduction of a higher order predator such as a bear may have also caused a
rapid decline in this instance.
(This question is asking you to think about elements that influence a population and use
your understanding to provide an explanation for what is seen on the graph.)